Author Archives: habitatdana

American Cranberrybush, Viburnum opulus

American Cranberry Bush

Viburnum opulus L. var. americanum Aiton

(Vi-BUR-num  OP-yoo-lus)

Names: The specific epithet, opulus appears to refer to the Italian Maple, Acer opalus (opalus for opal), due to its maple-like leaves, rather than any opulent characteristic.  Viburnum opulus is sometimes called Highbush Cranberry in our region, but that name is more often used for Viburnum edule. The American Cranberry Bush (also known as V. trilobum) is a variety of the European Cranberry Bush.  The species and some of it’s cultivated varieties are known in in other parts of the world as Guelder Rose, Water Elder, European Cranberrybush, Cramp Bark, or Snowball Tree.

Relationships: There are about 150-175 species of Viburnum in temperate regions of the Northern Hemisphere with a few species found in mountainous regions of South America, Southeast Asia & Africa (in the Atlas Mountains). There are about 20 native to North America. Many species are popular garden and landscape plants. Several hybrids and cultivated varieties. have been developed. They are grown for their flower display and/or showy fruit, Some have fragrant flowers; some with attractive or unusual evergreen leaves or fall color.

Distribution of American Cranberrybush from USDA Plants Database

Distribution: Viburnum opulus is also native to Europe, North Africa and Central Asia. It is found from southern British Columbia and in scattered locations in Washington State (on the fringes of Lake Washington, the Columbia River Gorge and near the Idaho border.); eastward, it is found sporadically across the northern United States and Canada, more common in the Great Lakes region to the eastern seaboard.  American Cranberry Bush is listed as endangered in Indiana; threatened in Ohio; and rare in Pennsylvania.  It is distinguished, with difficulty from the European form which occasionally escapes cultivation (more often in the eastern U.S.), by its skinnier somewhat longer stipules, and shorter, squatter petiolar glands.

The popular cultivated Snowball Viburnum, Viburnum opulus ‘Sterile’

There are several cultivated varieties, including the well-known Snowball Shrub (or Tree), ‘Roseum’ (or ‘Sterile’), which gets its name from the snowball-shaped clusters of sterile flowers; it appears to have originated in the Dutch province of Gelderland, the derivation of its other common name, “Guelder Rose.”

Growth: This species can be a large shrub growing to 12-15 feet (1-4m) tall and as wide or wider.

Habitat: American Cranberrybush is found in moist, open woods. Wetland designation: FACW-, it usually occurs in wetlands, but is occasionally found in non-wetlands.

Diagnostic Characters: Opposite leaves are palmately 3- veined and 3-lobed and coarsely toothed.  Flowers are a typical, white “lace-cap”—a flat-topped cluster of tiny flowers ringed with larger, showier, sterile flowers.  Red, shiny fruits are berry-like drupes, each with a flattened stone.

 

In the Landscape: Having long been a garden favorite, Viburnum opulus, is an outstanding landscape shrub.  The species has attractive lacy, white flowers in the summer, followed by bright red berries.  It has spectacular fall color.  This large, spreading shrub can be used as a specimen plant, for screens, or may be placed at the back of a shrub border.  Children enjoy using the flower heads of the sterile form for spring time snowball fights!

American Cranberrybush has spectacular fall color

Phenology: Bloom time: May-July; Fruit ripens: September-October. Persisting through winter.

 

Propagation: Seed propagation is difficult. Seed is best sown in a cold frame as soon as it is ripe; it may take more than 18 months to germinate.  Stored seed requires 2 months warm and 3 months cold stratification and may still take 18 months or more to germinate.   Cuttings root easily. Softwood cuttings may be taken in early summer; half-ripe wood in July or August; or mature wood in winter.  Layering is also possible.

Use by people: Kalnya (Viburnum opulus) is a national symbol of Ukraine.  Ancient Slavs associated it with the birth of the universe.  Its berries symbolize blood and family roots. Kalyna is often depicted in Ukrainian embroidery.  The fruit of European varieties tends to be bitter and is not used for food.  The berries of American Cranberry Bush can be used as a cranberry substitute for making jellies and preserves, but the fruit may cause mild stomach upset when eaten unripe, and large quantities may cause vomiting and diarrhea. Some natives mashed the berries and dried them into cakes for future use.  The dried bark has been used in preparations to alleviate painful menstrual or stomach cramps, hence the common name “Cramp Bark.”  A red dye or ink may be made from the fruit.  Stems without pith were used to make popguns in the absence of elderberry.

Use by Wildlife: Thrushes, robins, and Cedar Waxwings are considered the principal seed dispersers.  The fruit is perhaps not a favorite of wildlife; it is not normally eaten by birds until after it has frozen and thawed several times.  It is, however, known to be eaten by deer, moose, foxes, raccoons, chipmunks, squirrels, skunks, mice, rabbits, grouse, pheasants, and other songbirds. This large shrub provides cover and nesting sites for many small animals. It is a larval host for the Spring Azure Butterfly and sometimes attracts aphids.   The flowers are pollinated by insects.

Links:

USDA Plants Database

Consortium of Pacific Northwest Herbaria

WTU Herbarium Image Collection, Plants of Washington, Burke Museum

E-Flora BC, Electronic Atlas of the Flora of British Columbia

Jepson Eflora, University of California

Calphotos

Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center

Virginia Tech ID Fact Sheet

Native Plants Network, Propagation Protocol Database

Plants for a Future Database

Native American Ethnobotany, University of Michigan, Dearborn

Highbush Cranberry, Viburnum edule

High Bush Cranberry

Viburnum edule (Michx.) Raf.                                Caprifoliaceae-the Honeysuckle Family

(Vi-BUR-num  ED-yew-lee)                (Newer classification Adoxaceae-the Moschatel Family)

Names: The name Viburnum comes from the Latin word for Viburnum lantana, the Wayfaring Tree. Highbush Cranberry is also known as Squashberry, Mooseberry, Moosewood Viburnum, Lowbush Cranberry, Few-flowered Highbush Cranberry, Pembina, Pimbina, or Moosomin ( in Cree Language).  It has also been known as V. opulus var. edule and V. pauciflorum (meaning few-flowered).  Edule means edible.  Highbush Cranberries get their name from their cranberry-like red berries that grow on tall shrubs, in contrast to true cranberry plants, Vaccinium (Oxycoccus) sp. which are small creeping shrubs or vines.

Relationships: There are about 150-175 species of Viburnum in temperate regions of the Northern Hemisphere with a few species found in mountainous regions of South America, Southeast Asia & Africa (in the Atlas Mountains). There are about 20 native to North America. Many species are popular garden and landscape plants. Several hybrids and cultivated varieties. have been developed. They are grown for their flower display and/or showy fruit, Some have fragrant flowers; some with attractive or unusual evergreen leaves or fall color.

Distribution of Highbush Cranberry from USDA Plants Database

Distribution:  High Bush Cranberry is found all across the northern United States and Canada; from Alaska to central Oregon in the west.  It is listed as endangered in Wisconsin; threatened in Michigan, New York, and Vermont; and of ‘Special Concern’ in Maine.

 

 

 

 

Growth: High Bush Cranberry grows 1.5-9 feet (.5-3 m) tall.

Habitat: It is found in moist woods, forest edges, rocky slopes, along streams, and in swamps.   Wetland designation: FACW, It usually occurs in wetlands, but is occasionally found in non-wetlands.

Diagnostic Characters: Its leaves are opposite, usually shallowly palmately 3- lobed and sharply toothed; sometimes looking almost like a dinosaur footprint.  The white flowers are all alike in small clusters, with no ring of sterile flowers.  Fruits are red or orange berry-like drupes, each with a large flattened stone.  Bark is smooth and reddish-gray.

In the Landscape: Highbush Cranberry has attractive flowers and fruit, and brilliantly colored foliage in the fall.  It is one of the most sought after shrubs for the wildlife gardener to attract birds to their garden.  The tart berries may be enjoyed by both people and wildlife.

Phenology: Bloom time: May-July; Fruit ripens: Late summer persisting through winter.

Propagation: Seed is best sown in a cold frame as soon as it is ripe; it may take more than 18 months to germinate.  Stored seed requires 2 months warm and 3 months cold stratification and may still take 18 months or more to germinate.  Cuttings are easier.  Softwood cuttings may be taken in early summer; half-ripe wood in July or August; or mature wood in winter.  Layering is also possible.

Use by People: The tart fruits were an important food to many tribes.  They were harvested, sometimes while still greenish, or later after the first frost, and stored in boxes with water and oil; becoming softer and sweeter over time.  They were sometimes dried.  The fruits make excellent jams, jellies, juices, or sauces.  Pojar & Mackinnon state: “When mixed half-and-half with commercial cranberries, they make an excellent Thanksgiving cranberry sauce.”  Raw fruit can cause nausea in some people if it is eaten in large quantities.  The bark was taken for coughs and digestive disorders; leaves and twigs were used to make a gargle for sore throats.  The stems were used for birch bark basket rims.

Use by Wildlife: Highbush Cranberries are eaten by bears and many small mammals and birds.  Foliage is browsed by elk, Bighorn Sheep, deer, moose, caribou, beaver, rabbit, and snowshoe hare.  The plant also provides cover for small mammals and birds.  Butterflies visit the flowers.

Links:

USDA Plants Database

Consortium of Pacific Northwest Herbaria

WTU Herbarium Image Collection, Plants of Washington, Burke Museum

E-Flora BC, Electronic Atlas of the Flora of British Columbia

Calphotos

Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center

USDA Forest Service-Fire Effects Information System

Virginia Tech ID Fact Sheet

Native Plants Network, Propagation Protocol Database

Plants for a Future Database

Native American Ethnobotany, University of Michigan, Dearborn

Red Elderberry, Sambucus racemosa

Red Elderberry                           Caprifoliaceae-the Honeysuckle Family

                                                  (Newer classification Adoxaceae-the Moschatel Family)

Sambucus racemosa L.

(sam-BEW-kus  ra-see-MO-suh)

Names: The name Sambucus is derived from the Greek sambuca, which was a stringed instrument supposed to have been made from elder wood. Racemosa refers to the elongated inflorescences, called racemes.  It is thought the name elder comes the Anglo-saxon ‘auld,’ ‘aeld’ or ‘eller’, meaning fire, because the hollow stems were used as bellows to blow air into the center of a fire. Our Red Elderberry has also been known as S. callicarpa (callicarpa=beautiful fruit).  Some identify our local plants as S. racemosa ssp. pubens var. arborescens; (pubens because of the downy pubescence beneath the leaves, and arborescens because of its tree-like form.)  It also may be called Mountain Red Elderberry, Scarlet Elder or Elderberry, Racemed Elder, or Bunchberry Elder.  A purplish-black-berried form, Rocky Mountain Elderberry, S. racemosa var. melanocarpa is also found through much of the west.

Relationships: Sambucus is a genus with 5-30 species depending on how they are “lumped” or divided.  Most are native to the northern hemisphere with a few in Australia (and neighboring islands), and South America.  Blue Elderberry, American Elderberry, and Red Elderberry, are the only Elder species native to the United States (other named species are now lumped into these species).

Distribution of Red Elderberry from USDA Plants Database

Distribution: Red Elderberry is native to Europe, temperate Asia, and North America.  It is found throughout most of the United States and Canada, excluding only the far north of Canada and Alaska, and the central and southern United States.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Growth: Red Elderberry grows 3-9 feet (1-6m); often tree-like in our region.

Habitat: It grows in moist sites; shady or open forests, streambanks, and moist clearings. Wetland designation: FACU, it usually occurs in non-wetlands but occasionally is found in wetlands.

Diagnostic Characters: Leaves are opposite, pinnately divided into 5-7 leaflets.  Leaflets are lance-shaped, toothed on the margins, and often somewhat hairy underneath.  Tiny, white to creamy flowers are borne in pyramidal clusters.  Berries are usually bright red, sometimes purplish-black, or rarely yellow or white.  Stems are soft, and pithy. The foliage, branches, and flowers have an unpleasant odor when crushed.

In the Landscape: Red Elderberry is especially attractive in woodland gardens.  Its vase-like, arborescent form creates an umbrella-like canopy over smaller woodland shrubs.  Overgrown plants can be severely pruned.  Red Elderberry is used for revegetation, erosion control, and wildlife plantings.  It may be relatively tolerant of heavy metal contamination, so may be useful in restoring habitats around mining and smelting sites.

 

 

 

Phenology: Bloom time: April-July; Fruit ripens: July-August.

Propagation: Stratify seeds warm for 90 days, then stratify for 90 days at 40ºF (4ºC), or sow as soon as seeds are ripe in a cold frame.  Scarification may speed up or increase germination rates.  Heat from a fire can crack the hard seed coat, and it has been shown that seeds have faster and higher germination rates after passing through the digestive tract of birds or bears.  Light may also improve germination rates.  Seeds may require 2 years to germinate.  Cuttings of half-ripe wood may be taken in July or August; cuttings of mature wood of the current season’s growth in late fall.  Suckers may be divided and dug in the dormant season.

 

Use by people: Natives steamed the berries on rocks and put them in a container stored underground or in water, eating them later in winter.  Leaves, bark or roots were applied externally to abscesses, aching muscles, or sore joints.  Roots or bark were chewed or made into a tea to induce vomiting or as a laxative.  Flowers were boiled down to treat coughs and colds.  Hollow stems were used for whistles, pipes and toy blowguns.  Although they have sometimes been eaten fresh, it is advisable to always cook the berries before eating, raw berries may cause nausea.  The seeds are considered poisonous.  Cooked berries can be made into wines, sauces or jellies.

 

Use by wildlife: Old Skykomish chiefs reportedly ordered people not to burn brush where Red Elderberries grew because the deer ate the ripe berries.  Deer and elk will eat the foliage, bark and buds, but Red Elderberry is usually not a preferred browse; palatability increases after frost and probably varies with relative cyanide content of individual plants.  Many birds eat the berries including thrushes, robins, grouse, and pigeons.  Squirrels, mice, raccoons, and bears also eat the fruit.  Bears will also eat the foliage and the roots.  Porcupines, mice and hares eat the buds and bark in winter. Flowers are pollinated by bees, flies, and the wind.  Fruit-eating birds and mammals disperse the seeds.

Links:

USDA Plants Database

Consortium of Pacific Northwest Herbaria

WTU Herbarium Image Collection, Plants of Washington, Burke Museum

E-Flora BC, Electronic Atlas of the Flora of British Columbia

Jepson Eflora, University of California

Calphotos

Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center

USDA Forest Service-Fire Effects Information System

Virginia Tech ID Fact Sheet

Native Plants Network, Propagation Protocol Database

Plants for a Future Database

Native American Ethnobotany, University of Michigan, Dearborn

Blue Elderberry, Sambucus nigra ssp. cerulea

Blue Elderberry                         Caprifoliaceae-the Honeysuckle Family

                                                  (Newer classification Adoxaceae-the Moschatel Family)

Sambucus nigra L. ssp. cerulea (Raf.) R. Bolli

(sam-BEW-kus  NY-gruh  [subspecies]  sair-rule-leah)

Names: The name Sambucus is derived from the Greek sambuca, which was a stringed instrument supposed to have been made from elder wood. Nigra means black; caerulea means sky-blue.  It is thought the name elder comes the Anglo-saxon ‘auld,’ ‘aeld’ or ‘eller’, meaning fire, because the hollow stems were used as bellows to blow air into the center of a fire. Blue Elderberry was sometimes known as S. glauca; it is more commonly known as Sambucus cerulea (or caerulea), but many botanists feel that it and the American Elderberry, Sambucus canadensis, are just a subspecies of the well-known European species, the Black Elder, Sambucus nigra.

Relationships: Sambucus is a genus with 5-30 species depending on how they are “lumped” or divided.  Most are native to the northern hemisphere with a few in Australia (and neighboring islands), and South America.  Blue Elderberry, American Elderberry, and Red Elderberry, are the only Elder species native to the United States (other named species are now lumped into these species).

Distribution of Blue Elderberry from USDA Plants Database

Distribution: Blue Elderberry is found from southern British Columbia to California; to western Montana through west Texas.

Growth: Sometimes tree-like, Blue Elderberry grows 6-12 feet (2-4m).

 

Habitat: It is generally found in drier open forests, edges, and slopes; often along roadsides. Wetland designation: FACU, it usually occurs in non-wetlands but occasionally is found in wetlands.

 

Diagnostic Characters:  Blue Elderberry has opposite, relatively large, pinnately-divided compound leaves with 5-9, broadly lance-shaped, smooth, toothed leaflets.  Small, creamy white flowers are borne in flat-topped clusters.  Berries are bluish-black, with a waxy bloom, making them appear powdery blue.  Twigs are soft and pithy.

 

 

In the landscape: Elders can be a little wild but overgrown plants can be cut back severely.  Blue Elderberry can be used as a hedgerow, as a screen, or planted at the edge of a forest.  It is most often grown for its edible berries and to attract birds.  It is also valuable for revegetation projects, and to stabilize slopes and streambanks.

 

Phenology: Bloom time: May-July; Fruit ripens: August.

Blue Elderberry usually has a blue waxy bloom on the berries, but not always…

Propagation: Stratify seeds warm for 90 days, then stratify for 90 days at 40º (4º C), or sow as soon as seeds are ripe in a cold frame.  Blue Elderberry is easily propagated by cuttings; either semi-hard wood in July or August or hardwood in autumn.  Layering is also possible.

Use by People: Elder trees were important in Celtic folklore and mythology; they were considered sacred to fairies and were used for making wands.  The “Elder Wand” was one of the “Deathly Hallows” in the Harry Potter book series.  In Europe, elderflowers are widely used to make syrups, cordials and liqueurs.  The pith was by watchmakers for cleaning tools before intricate work.  The fruit, on both continents, is often used for wine, jellies, candy, pies, and sauces.  Northwest natives ate the berries fresh, dried, steamed, or boiled.  Raw berries, especially if they are not fully ripe, may cause some people to experience an upset stomach.  The bark and leaves were used to induce vomiting and as a laxative; externally applied, they were used for pain, bruises, swelling, and as an antiseptic. The flowers were made into a tea to treat cold and flu symptoms.  The berries were used to make a black or purple dye; the stems to make an orange or yellow dye.  Hollow twigs were used for flutes, whistles, pipes, blowguns and squirtguns; whistles were use to call elk.  The soft wood was used as a twirling stick to make fire.

Use by Wildlife: Blue Elderberry is an extremely valuable shrub for wildlife.  It provides valuable cover and nesting sites for birds and small mammals.   Its fruit provides food for many species of birds including: jays, woodpeckers, pigeons, grosbeaks, robins, thrushes, bluebirds, towhees, tanagers, and many others.  Squirrels and other small mammals also eat the fruit.  Flowers are mostly pollinated by insects but hummingbirds will visit the flowers for nectar.  Elk and deer browse the foliage.

Links:

USDA Plants Database

Consortium of Pacific Northwest Herbaria

WTU Herbarium Image Collection, Plants of Washington, Burke Museum

E-Flora BC, Electronic Atlas of the Flora of British Columbia

Jepson Eflora, University of California

Calphotos

Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center

USDA Forest Service-Fire Effects Information System

Virginia Tech ID Fact Sheet

Native Plants Network, Propagation Protocol Database

Plants for a Future Database

Native American Ethnobotany, University of Michigan, Dearborn

Common Snowberry, Symphoricarpos albus

Common Snowberry           Caprifoliaceae-the Honeysuckle Family

 Symphoricarpos albus (L.) S.F. Blake

(sim-for-ih-CAR-poes  AL-bus)

Names: Symphori- means “bear together;” –carpos means fruits– referring to the clustered fruits.  Albus meaning white, and the common name, Snowberry also refers to the white fruits.  This species is sometimes known as Waxberry, White Coralberry, or White, Thin-leaved, or Few-flowered Snowberry.

Relationships: The genus Symphoricarpos has about 15 species, mostly native to North and Central America, with one from western China; 12 are found in the United States.  Western Snowberry, S. occidentalis, and Mountain Snowberry, S. oreophilis, are mostly found on the east side of the Cascades.  Trailing Snowberry, S. hesperius will be discussed in the groundcover section.  S. albus var. laevigatus (meaning smooth) is the most common phase found on the Pacific slopes and is more aggressive than the eastern form; it has also been known as S. rivularis or S. racemosa var. laevigatus.  It is more aggressive and differs from the S. albus var. albus by being larger, with larger berries and less hairy twigs and leaves.  It often escapes cultivation in the eastern United States, and has naturalized in parts of Britain.

Distribution of Common Snowberry from USDA Plants Database

Distribution: Common Snowberry is found from southeast Alaska to southern California; all across the northern United States and the Canadian provinces.

Growth: This species usually grows 3-9 feet (1-2m) tall.

Habitat: It is found in in dry to moist open forests, clearings, and rocky slopes. It is very adaptable to different conditions. Wetland designation: FACU, it usually occurs in non-wetlands but occasionally is found in wetlands.

 

 

Diagnostic Characters: Oval leaves are opposite with smooth or wavy-toothed margins; sometimes hairy on the undersides; often larger and irregularly lobed on sterile shoots.  Flowers are small, pink to white bells in dense, few-flowered clusters.  Fruit are white berry-like drupes containing two nutlets.

Leaves can be entire or lobed.

In the Landscape: Common Snowberry has long been grown as an ornamental shrub.  Winter is its most conspicuous season, where its white berries stand out against leafless branches.  Its dainty pinkish flowers are also attractive.  Common Snowberry spreads by root suckers and is best given plenty of space to create a wild thicket.  It tolerates poor soil and neglect.  It is great for controlling erosion on slopes, riparian plantings, for restoration and mine reclamation projects. It is also popular in Rain Gardens.

Phenology: Bloom time: May-August; Fruit ripens: September-October, persisting through winter.

 

 

Propagation: Stratify seeds warm for 90 days, then stratify for 180 days at 40º (4º C), or sow as soon as seeds are ripe in a cold frame.  Cuttings of half-ripe wood may be taken in July or August or of mature wood in winter.  Suckers may be divided in the dormant season.  Plants resprout from rhizomes after a fire.

 

Use by People:  Snowberries are high in saponins, which are poorly absorbed by the body.  Although they are largely considered poisonous, (given names like ‘corpse berry’ or ‘snake’s berry’), some tribes ate them fresh or dried them for later consumption.  The berries were used as a shampoo to clean hair.  Crushed berries were also rubbed on the skin to treat burns, warts, rashes and sores; and rubbed in armpits as an antiperspirant.  Various parts were infused and used as an eyewash for sore eyes.  A tea made from the roots was used for stomach disorders; a tea made from the twigs was used for fevers.  Branches were tied together to make brooms.  Bird arrows were also made from the stems.

Use by Wildlife: Saponins are much more toxic to some animals, such as fish; hunting tribes sometimes put large quantities of snowberries in streams or lakes to stupefy or kill fish. “The Green River tribe say that when these berries are plentiful, there will be many dog salmon, for the white berry is the eye of the dog salmon.” Common snowberry is an important browse for deer, antelope, and Bighorn Sheep; use by elk and moose varies.  The berries are an important food for grouse, grosbeaks, robins and thrushes.  Bears also eat the fruit.  The shrub provides good cover and nesting sites for gamebirds, rabbits, and other small animals.  Pocket gophers burrow underneath it. The pink flowers attract hummingbirds, but are mostly pollinated by bees.  The leaves are eaten by the Sphinx Moth larvae.

Links:

USDA Plants Database

Consortium of Pacific Northwest Herbaria

WTU Herbarium Image Collection, Plants of Washington, Burke Museum

E-Flora BC, Electronic Atlas of the Flora of British Columbia

Jepson Eflora, University of California

Calphotos

Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center

USDA Forest Service-Fire Effects Information System

Virginia Tech ID Fact Sheet

Native Plants Network, Propagation Protocol Database

Plants for a Future Database

Native American Ethnobotany, University of Michigan, Dearborn

Black Twinberry Lonicera involucrata

Black Twinberry                       Caprifoliaceae-the Honeysuckle Family

Lonicera involucrata (Richardson) Banks ex Spreng.

(Lon-IH-sir-ruh  in-voh-loo-KRAY-tuh)

Names:  Black Twinberry is also known as Involucred, Bracted, Bearberry, Fly or Fourline Honeysuckle; or Coast Twinberry.  Involucrata refers to the involucres, or bracts that surround the flowers and fruit. Twinberry refers to the 2 berries surrounded by the bracts.

Relationships:  Honeysuckles have long been a garden favorite, grown mostly for their sweetly-scented, nectar-producing flowers.  The common name, honeysuckle, comes from the fact that children enjoy sucking nectar from the base of the flowers for a sweet treat.  Plants in the genus, Lonicera, are often twining vines but many are arching shrubs.  There are about 180 species in the Northern Hemisphere, with about 100 from China, ~20 from North America, and the rest from Europe or North Africa.  The name Lonicera is derived from Adamus Lonicerus (Adam Lonitzer), a German botanist, author of the herbal, Kräuterbuch (1557).  Unfortunately, many invasive ornamental species of Lonicera may be found growing in natural areas.

Distribution of Black Twinberry from USDA Plants Database

Distribution:  This species is found from southeast Alaska to southern California; across most of Canada; from western Montana to Chihuahua in northern Mexico; with isolated communities in the Great Lakes region; listed as endangered in Wisconsin and threatened in Michigan.

Growth:  It grows from 1.5-9 feet (.5-3m)

Habitat: Black Twinberry is found in moist, open forests, streamsides, and edges.  Wetland designation: FAC+*, Facultative, it is equally likely to occur in wetlands or non-wetlands.

Diagnostic Characters: Black Twinberry has opposite leaves that are broadly lance-shaped. It has paired, tubular, yellow flowers arising from the leaf axils.  The flowers are 5-lobed, surrounded by large, green or purple bracts.  Fruits are shiny, black “twin” berries surrounded by purplish-red bracts.  Young, green twigs are 4-angled in cross-section.

 

In the Landscape:  It is an attractive shrub and should be used more in the garden.  It is a great “edge” species when planted between a forest and more open area.  It can be used in a hedgerow or in a Rain Garden.  Its fresh, green leaves are similar to Indian Plum; and its dainty, yellow flowers and colorful bracts add interest throughout spring, summer, and fall. Black Twinberry is great for reclamation plantings on riparian sites, in wet meadows and in forests.

Phenology: Bloom time:  April-August (May at peak); Fruit ripens: September.

 

 

Propagation:  Stratify seeds at 38º (3º C) for 120 days or sow them as soon as they are ripe in a cold frame. Cuttings of half-ripe wood may be taken in July or August or of mature wood in November.  Layering in the fall is also possible.

Use by People: Natives used the leaves, bark and twigs for a variety of medicinal purposes. An infusion of bark was used as a soak for sore feet and legs, as an eyewash, or in the treatment of coughs.  Women chewed the leaves during confinement.  Leaves were also chewed and applied to itchy skin and various sores.  The berries were mostly considered poisonous, but were sometimes eaten for food.  The fruit or leaves were used to induce vomiting for purification or after poisoning.  The berries were applied to the scalp to prevent dandruff or to prevent hair from turning gray.  The juice of the berries was used to paint the faces of dolls and for basketry dye.

Use by Wildlife: Most tribes associate this plant with the crow; other birds such as grouse, grosbeaks, juncos, waxwings, thrushes, flickers, finches, and quail eat the berries too.  Bears also eat the berries.  Black Twinberry provides cover for small animals.  Although hummingbirds may visit Twinberry flowers, they are mostly pollinated by insects, as are many “Fly Honeysuckles.”

 Links:

USDA Plants Database

Consortium of Pacific Northwest Herbaria

WTU Herbarium Image Collection, Plants of Washington, Burke Museum

E-Flora BC, Electronic Atlas of the Flora of British Columbia

Jepson Eflora, University of California

Calphotos

Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center

Virginia Tech ID Fact Sheet

Native Plants Network, Propagation Protocol Database

Plants for a Future Database

Native American Ethnobotany, University of Michigan, Dearborn

 

Red Twinberry

Lonicera utahensis S. Watson

Red Twinberry is similar to Black Twinberry but has more rounded leaves and lacks the big bracts surrounding the flowers and fruit; it has red fruit and its flowers are a creamy-yellow, nearly white.  It is found from southern British Columbia to central Oregon in the Olympic Mountains, North Cascades, and central Oregon; and in the Rocky Mountains from Alberta to the border of Arizona and New Mexico.  It can be used similarly in the landscape as Black Twinberry.  It is a valuable summer and fall browse for elk, but a minor browse species for white-tailed deer and moose.  Fruits are dispersed by birds, such as grouse, rodents, and bears.

Links:

USDA Plants Database

Consortium of Pacific Northwest Herbaria

WTU Herbarium Image Collection, Plants of Washington, Burke Museum

E-Flora BC, Electronic Atlas of the Flora of British Columbia

Calphotos

Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center

USDA Forest Service-Fire Effects Information System

Virginia Tech ID Fact Sheet

Native Plants Network, Propagation Protocol Database

Plants for a Future Database

Native American Ethnobotany, University of Michigan, Dearborn

 

There are two other smaller Honeysuckle shrubs that may be encountered in the Pacific Northwest. Bluefly Honeysuckle, Lonicera caerulea var. cauriana has white “twin” flowers and grows 0.5-6 feet (0.2-m) tall.  The Eurasian variety, Sweetberry Honeysuckle, Lonicera caerulea var. edulis is widely grown in Russia for its edible blue berries; ours have red berries (a thin fleshy cup).  Purpleflower Honeysuckle or Boob-berry, Lonicera conjugialis grows 0.5-4.5 feet (0.6-1.5m) and has reddish-purple flowers followed by paired red berries that are often fused together.  Both are found mostly in the mountains; from Mount Adams, in Washington, through the Cascades in Oregon to the Sierras of California, with a few in the northern Rockies.  Both bloom in June or July; and may be good choices in a landscape where smaller shrubs are desired.

           

 

 

Hairy Honeysuckle, Lonicera hispidula

Hairy Honeysuckle

 Lonicera hispidula (Lindl.) Douglas ex Torr. & A. Gray

(Lon-IH-sir-ruh  hisp-ih-DOO-luh)

Lonicera hispidulaNames:  Hairy Honeysuckle is also called Pink Honeysuckle or California (Pink or Hairy) Honeysuckle.  Hispidula means covered with bristly hairs. The common name, honeysuckle, comes from the fact that children enjoy sucking nectar from the base of the flowers for a sweet treat.  The name Lonicera is derived from Adamus Lonicerus (Adam Lonitzer), a German botanist, author of the herbal, Kräuterbuch (1557).

Relationships: Plants in the genus, Lonicera, are often twining vines but many are arching shrubs.  There are about 180 species in the Northern Hemisphere, with about 100 from China, ~20 from North America, and the rest from Europe or North Africa.

 

 

 

Distribution of Hairy Honeysuckle from USDA Plants Database

Distribution of Hairy Honeysuckle from USDA Plants Database

Distribution: Hairy Honeysuckle is native from Vancouver Island, in British Columbia to southern California; on the west side of the Cascades in Washington and Oregon; in the Sierras and coastal mountains of California.

Growth: More often a sprawling, shrubby vine, it may also climb up to 3-18 feet (1-6m).

Habitat: It grows in open forests, on drier south, or west slopes, but often grows in coastal riparian areas in California.

 

 

 

 

Diagnostic Characters: Opposite leaves are variously hairy, sometimes smooth; with the terminal pair joined to form a disc.  Pink (or yellow tinged with pink), tubular flowers are born in terminal clusters, accompanied by a pair of axillary clusters.  The flowers are two-lipped with the lips about as long as the tube; curling back as the flowers open.  Fruits are bright red berries.  Stems are hollow.

In the Landscape:  Hairy Honeysuckle can be used as a ground cover on a dry slope or may be trained on a trellis.  Its attractive, pink flowers are another hummingbird favorite, so it is also a good choice for a wildlife garden.

Phenology: Bloom time: June-August; Fruit ripens: September.

Propagation: Sow seeds as soon as they are ripe in a cold frame or stratify for 90 days at 40º (4º C).  Cuttings root easily; they are best taken of half-ripe wood in July or August or mature wood in November.

Use by people: Natives in California used the hollow stems for pipe stems and the burned wood ashes for tattooing.

Use by Wildlife: The flowers provide nectar for hummingbirds.  The berries are eaten by grouse, pheasants, flickers, robins, thrushes, bluebirds, waxwings, grosbeaks, finches, and juncos. Small birds may make nests within the twining branches.

Links:

USDA Plants Database

Consortium of Pacific Northwest Herbaria

WTU Herbarium Image Collection, Plants of Washington, Burke Museum

E-Flora BC, Electronic Atlas of the Flora of British Columbia

Jepson Eflora, University of California

Calphotos

Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center

USDA Forest Service-Fire Effects Information System

Virginia Tech ID Fact Sheet

Native Plants Network, Propagation Protocol Database

Native American Ethnobotany, University of Michigan, Dearborn

Trumpet Honeysuckle, Lonicera ciliosa

Trumpet Honeysuckle

Lonicera ciliosa (Pursh) Poir. ex DC.

(Lon-IH-sir-ruh  sill-ee-OH-suh)

Trumpet HoneysuckleNames:    Honeysuckles have long been a garden favorite, grown mostly for their sweetly-scented, nectar-producing flowers.  The common name, honeysuckle, comes from the fact that children enjoy sucking nectar from the base of the flowers for a sweet treat. This species is also known as Orange Honeysuckle, Northwest Honeysuckle, or Western Trumpet.  The name Lonicera is derived from Adamus Lonicerus (Adam Lonitzer), a German botanist, author of the herbal, Kräuterbuch (1557). Ciliosa, which means having small, fringe-like hairs like eyelashes, refers to the hairy edges of the leaves.

Relationships: Plants in the genus, Lonicera, are often twining vines but many are arching shrubs.  There are about 180 species in the Northern Hemisphere, with about 100 from China, ~20 from North America, and the rest from Europe or North Africa. A similar species, Limber Honeysuckle, L. dioca, found in British Columbia, has light yellow flowers. Unfortunately, many invasive ornamental species of Lonicera may be found growing in natural areas.

Distribution of Trumpet Honeysuckle from USDA Plants Database

Distribution of Trumpet Honeysuckle from USDA Plants Database

Distribution: Trumpet Honeysuckle is native from British Columbia to northern California, mostly west of the Cascades; but also can be found in the Idaho panhandle and neighboring Montana; and isolated communities in Utah and Arizona.

 

 

 

 

 

Growth: Trumpet Honeysuckle is a twining or trailing vine climbing up to 18 feet (6m).

Lonicera ciliosa vine

Habitat: It is found in open woods, or along edges of forests.

Tubular flowers flare to 5 lobes at the end.

Tubular flowers flare to 5 lobes at the end.

Diagnostic Characters: Although the leaves of young seedlings are often very hairy, similar to Hairy Honeysuckle, mature opposite leaves are mostly smooth, large, and oval with the end-pair on each twig joined together at their base;  Terminal flower clusters arise from these disc-like leaves; bearing several orange, trumpet-shaped flowers that flare to 5 lobes at the end.  Fruits are bunches of orange-red, translucent berries.  Twining, freely branching stems are hollow.

The tubular orange red flowers are hummingbird-adapted.

The tubular orange red flowers are hummingbird-adapted.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the Landscape:    In the wild, Trumpet Honeysuckle, climbs or rambles over trees and shrubs.  In the garden, it needs support and may need a little training to grow on a trellis, arbor, or along other structural elements in your outdoor living space.  With its orange, trumpet-shaped flowers, it is the classic hummingbird flower and should be included in any wildlife garden.

Trumpet Honeysuckle flowers

Phenology: Bloom time:  May-July; Fruit ripens: September.

Fruits are translucent red berries.

Fruits are translucent red berries.

Propagation:  Sow seeds as soon as they are ripe in a cold frame or stratify for 90 days at 40º F (4º C).  Cuttings root easily; they are best taken of half-ripe wood in July or August or mature wood in November.

 

 

 

 

 

Use by People: An infusion of the leaves or bark were used for medicinal purposes, mostly for womb trouble, to stimulate lacteal flow, a contraceptive, colds and sore throat, and tuberculosis.  It was also used externally as a strengthening tonic, to bathe children with epilepsy, and to bathe little girls to make their hair grow long and sleek.  The stems were used for building materials; the fiber for twine and thread.  And of course, the flowers were sucked by children for the sweet nectar!

Use by Wildlife: Trumpet Honeysuckle is known as Ghost’s Swing or Owl’s Swing in Coast Salish languages, the Snohomish say the crows swing on it.  The flowers are extremely attractive to hummingbirds.  The orange-red berries, although not a favorite, are eaten by a variety of birds including robins, juncos, flickers, and finches.

Links:

USDA Plants Database

Consortium of Pacific Northwest Herbaria

WTU Herbarium Image Collection, Plants of Washington, Burke Museum

E-Flora BC, Electronic Atlas of the Flora of British Columbia

Jepson Eflora, University of California

Calphotos

Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center

Virginia Tech ID Fact Sheet

Plants for a Future Database

Native American Ethnobotany, University of Michigan, Dearborn

Devil’s Club, Oplopanax horridus

Devil’s Club                                               Araliaceae-The Ginseng Family

Oplopanax horridus (Sm.) miq.

(awp-lo-PAN-ax  HOR-id-us)

devils-club-plantNames: The genus name, Oplopanax, is derived from hoplon, meaning weapon and panakos meaning panacea or “all-heal”—referring to the medicinal qualities of these shrubs and their relationship to the well-known Asian herb, Ginseng, Panax ginseng.  Oplopanax is sometimes misspelled, Ophlopanax. Both the common name and specific epithet, horridus, refer to its spiny, wicked-looking appearance.  Scientific synonyms include: Echinopanax horridum or horridus, Fatsia horridum, Panax horridum, and Ricinophyllum horridum.

Relationships: The genus Oplopanax consists of only 3 species in North America and northeastern Asia. Devil’s Club is the only Oplopanax species found in North America

Distribution of Devil's Club from USDA Plants Database

Distribution of Devil’s Club from USDA Plants Database

Distribution: It is mostly in the west; from southern Alaska and the Yukon Territory to southwestern Oregon in the west; to Alberta, the Idaho panhandle and neighboring Montana in the east; with a disjunctive population on islands in Lake Superior; (listed as threatened in Michigan).

 

 

 

Growth: Devil’s Club grows erect to 3-9 feet (1-3m) tall or sprawling, growing in clumps.

Devil's Club often grows by streams and rivers.

Devil’s Club often grows by streams and rivers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Habitat: It is found in moist woods, especially along streams. Wetland designation: FAC+, Facultative, it is equally likely to occur in wetlands or non-wetlands.

oplopanax-forest

Diagnostic Characters: Leaves are large, palmately lobed, similar to a maple leaf, with numerous spines along the veins on the undersides, and along the petioles.  Flowers are small and whitish, borne in globe-shaped clusters arranged on a tall, pyramidal spike.  The bright-red berries are somewhat flattened.  The very thick stems are covered with yellowish spines.

oplopanax-horridus-plant

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the Landscape: Although this plant has been called “fearsome” and “formidable,” it is boldly attractive.  Due to its spreading, mounding form and its large, maple-like leaves it can’t help but draw your attention.  In the wild, the stems can create an extensive spiny barrier to hikers desiring to get to a woodland stream.  In the garden, it needs to be given plenty of room, in a moist spot, where it is unlikely to be closely encountered.  In late summer, spikes of red berries make a striking contrast against a sea of green.

devils-club-flowerPhenology: Bloom time:  May-July; Fruit ripens: June-August, persisting over winter.

devils-club-berries

 

 

 

 

 

 

Propagation:  Seed can be sown in a cold frame as soon as it is ripe in the fall. Stratifying at 40º (4º C) for 30 days is optional according to one source; another source recommends a 72 hour running water soak, followed by an alternating 100 day cold, 100 day warm, 100 day cold moist stratification regime.  Either way, seeds may take up to 18 months or more to germinate. Cuttings or layering are possible; stem cuttings from horizontal branches in late spring to early summer; or root cuttings taken in winter.  Division of suckers during the dormant season or judicious digging of small plants in the wild may be the easiest propagation method.

Use by People: Devil’s Club was, and still is, an important medicinal herb for many native tribes.  The greenish, inner bark of the roots was the part most often used.  It was chewed or boiled to treat many ailments, including aches and pains (especially due to arthritis), sores and wounds, colds and flu, digestive disorders, lung ailments, cancer, diabetes and before and after childbirth.  It was also used for cleansing.  The inner bark was chewed during purification or power-seeking rituals by hunters, warriors and shamans.  The ash of stems was mixed with grease to rub on swellings and to make a reddish brown tattoo paint used by dancers.  The berries are considered poisonous but have been mashed, rubbed into a foam on the scalp to combat lice and dandruff, and to make the hair shiny.  The wood has been used to make lures and hooks for fishing.  Bark shavings were mixed with different berries to make paint or basket dye. The young, spring buds were sometimes boiled and eaten.  The spiny stems were used as protective charms against supernatural powers.  Devil’s Club was considered an all around good luck plant!

devils-club-with-ferns

Use by Wildlife: Deer and elk may browse Devil’s club lightly in spring and summer.  Devil’s Club growing along streams provides shade and cover for salmon and their eggs.  Bear prefer these areas because of the readily available fish and berries! Bear also eat Devil’s Club leaves and stems.  Devil’s club provides cover for various birds and rodents.

Links:

USDA Plants Database

Consortium of Pacific Northwest Herbaria

WTU Herbarium Image Collection, Plants of Washington, Burke Museum

E-Flora BC, Electronic Atlas of the Flora of British Columbia

Calphotos

Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center

USDA Forest Service-Fire Effects Information System

Virginia Tech ID Fact Sheet

Native Plants Network, Propagation Protocol Database

Plants for a Future Database

Native American Ethnobotany, University of Michigan, Dearborn

Pacific Poison Oak, Toxicodendron diversilobum

Pacific Poison-Oak             Anacardiaceae–The Sumac or Cashew Family

Toxicodendron diversilobum (Torr. & A. Gray) Greene

(Tox-ih-ko-DEN-drun  die-vers-ih-LO-bum)

toxicodendron-diversilobumNames:  Pacific Poison-Oak belongs to a genus of plants well known to cause severe skin irritation after contact.  Toxicodendron means “poison tree.” Diversilobum means “different lobes,” due to its irregularly lobed leaflets that resemble oak leaves.  This species may also be called Western or California Poison-Oak or Yeara.

 

Relationships:  Members of this genus were formerly included in Rhus (the sumac genus).  There are five species native to North America, including Poison-Ivy, T. radicans, of the eastern United States; and at least one species in South America and several more native to Asia.

Distribution of Poison Oak from USDA Plants Database

Distribution of Poison Oak from USDA Plants Database

Distribution: It is found from Vancouver Island and nearby islands in British Columbia to Baja California, mostly on the west side of the Cascades in Oregon.  In Washington, it is most common on Puget Sound islands and nearby shorelines, and along the Columbia River.   It is very common on the west side of the Sierra Nevadas and in the Mojave Desert in California.

 

 

 

 

 

 

climbing-poison-oakGrowth: Pacific Poison-Oak is usually a shrub growing 3-6 feet (1-2m) tall, but sometimes is a vine growing up to 45 feet (15m).  As a vine, a Poison-oak climbs trees or other supports by adventitious roots or by wedging stems within crevices.

Poison oak is usually a shrub but will sometimes grow as a vine up a tree.

Poison oak is usually a shrub but will sometimes grow as a vine up a tree.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Habitat: It grows in acid soils on dry to moist, rocky slopes or riparian zones; most often with a southerly exposure in the Puget Sound Region.

poison-oak-flowers

Diagnostic Characters: If it has “leaves of 3, let it be!” is a well-known warning referring to Poison-oaks and Poison-ivies.  It is a useful identification characteristic, although sometimes there are five leaflets per leaf.  Leaflets are irregularly lobed or scalloped, similar to an oak leaf. or sometimes just wavy or nearly entire. Leaves growing in the sun are often thicker and more waxy. Leaves growing in the shade on climbing vines are often thinner and duller.  Small greenish-ivory flowers are borne in axillary clusters; with male and female flowers on different plants.  Smooth, white fruits are berry-like.  Seeds are white or tan and deeply grooved.  Stems exude a milky juice when cut.

 

In the Landscape: Poison oak is not usually grown in a garden, unless it is a specialty poison garden. It does however have attractive fall foliage of a pinkish hue. In fact, people will sometimes unknowingly pick up the pink leaves on an autumn hike because they are pretty.

Poison Oak has attractive Pink leaves in Autumn.

Poison Oak has attractive Pink leaves in Autumn.

 

poison-oak-berriesPhenology: Bloom time: April-June; Fruit ripens: August

 

 

 

 

 

 

Propagation: Seed is best sown in a cold frame as soon as it is ripe. Pre-soaking  the seed for 24 hours in hot water prior to sowing in order helps to leach out any germination inhibitors. Cuttings of half-ripe wood are best taken in July/August.

toxicodendron-diversilobum-plant

Use by People: Natives used the stems for basketry. Leaves and roots were used for various medicinal purpose. A black dye was made from the ashes or juice of the plant. The resins of some Asian species are used to make lacquer.

Use by Wildlife: The berries have high wildlife value for birds and small mammals, especially Flickers, other woodpeckers and squirrels. Deer will browse the foliage. The shrub is used for nesting and cover by some bird species.

Links:

USDA Plants Database

Consortium of Pacific Northwest Herbaria

WTU Herbarium Image Collection, Plants of Washington, Burke Museum

E-Flora BC, Electronic Atlas of the Flora of British Columbia

Jepson Eflora, University of California

Calphotos

Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center

USDA Forest Service-Fire Effects Information System

Virginia Tech ID Fact Sheet

Plants for a Future Database

Native American Ethnobotany, University of Michigan, Dearborn